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Saturday, January 18, 2020

Football

Oliver, Hayden among The Cougar’s All-Decade Defensive Team picks


Ed Oliver earned our All-Decade honors after the illustrious career the former defensive tackle had at Houston, including several All-American picks and the 2017 Outland Trophy. | File photo

Ed Oliver earned our All-Decade honors after the illustrious career the former defensive tackle had at Houston, including several All-American picks and the 2017 Outland Trophy. | File photo

Houston wrapped up not only a 4-8 season on Nov. 30 against Navy, but also a decade of football.

From 2010 to 2019, the Cougars grew as a program — in doing so, jumped conferences, switched between seven head coaches, enjoyed upsets galore and amassed an 80-48 record.

While the Cougars rose up the ranks of college football respectability, many of the program’s greats made their marks in a program-altering decade.

In celebration of those players, here is The Cougar’s All-Decade Defensive Team:

DL: Joey Mbu, 2011-14

Throughout his time with the Cougars, Mbu was dominant on the defensive line.

Starting all 13 games his senior season at defensive tackle and as a team captain, Mbu tallied 32 tackles, 4.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks on the way.

The 310-pound lineman even got a couple interceptions, including on in a 2014 that saw Mbu selected to the All-AAC First Team. – J.R.

DL: Ed Oliver, 2016-18

Where do we start? 

A force unmatched, Oliver caught the eyes of scouts, pundits and fans alike at Houston.

Oliver’s 2016 saw the true freshman finish first nationally with the most pass breakups (9) at his position, second in tackles for loss (23) and second among defensive linemen in solo tackles (47).

Here are just a few other achievements from Oliver’s illustrious career with the Cougars: Houston’s first three-time All-American, 2017 Outland Trophy winner, 2016-18 All-AAC First Team, The American Rookie of the Year, and more.

Oh, and did we mention that he went No. 9 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft to the Buffalo Bills? – J.R.

DL: Cameron Malveaux, 2012-16

With 52 games under his belt at Houston, Malveaux was on obvious choice for the All-Decade Team.

Malveaux recorded 81 total tackles and 17 for loss in his four seasons with the Cougars, earning him a spot as a 2016 team captain and an invite to the 2017 NFLPA Bowl Game. – J.R.

OLB: Tyus Bowser, 2013-16

An electric pass-rushing force, Bowser recorded 21.5 sacks and 27.5 tackles for loss in his 48 games as a Cougar. He tallied 8.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss in his senior year, despite playing only eight games. Ultimately, that won him a nod on the AAC All-American Second Team, a Reeses Senior Bowl invite and his selection, by the Baltimore Ravens, in the second-round of the 2017 NFL Draft. – A.D.

LB: Derrick Matthews, 2011-14

Matthews’ final season, 2014, ended prematurely via an ACL tear. However, he left the Cougars program as one of the greatest to ever do it. He tallied three consecutive seasons of 100+ tackles before suffering the injury. By the time he graduated, he had the fifth-most tackles in UH history with 400. If not for the torn ACL, Matthews may have left as Houston’s all-time tackle leader. – A.D.

LB: Elandon Roberts, 2013-15

A staple of the “LBU” group of the mid-2010s, Roberts stands out as one of the best linebacker talents in UH history — all while being a transfer from Morgan State. His senior year alone props him into the All-Decade team; in 2015, he lead the nation in solo tackles (88) while also finishing fourth-nationally in combined tackles (144). His play in both The American Championship and Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl propped-up impactful wins. – A.D.

OLB: Steven Taylor, 2012-16

Playing behind linemen like Mbu and Malveaux, Taylor quickly became comfortable at his position, and he excelled.

His 50 tackles for loss tie for fourth in Houston history, while his 25.5 career sacks and seven forced fumbles rank fifth. 

Taylor earned All-AAC honors twice, Second Team in 2015 and First Team in 2016. – J.R.

S: Adrian McDonald, 2012-15

A takeaway machine, McDonald finished his Cougar career as the program’s all-time leader in interceptions (17), third in fumble recoveries (seven) and fifth in forced fumbles (seven). Though 5-foot-9, 205-pounds he wasn’t afraid to throw his body around. By the end of 2015, he had nods on the AAC All-American First Team and AAC All-American Second Team once and was a 2015 Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist. – A.D.

S: Trevon Stewart, 2012-15

Much like some of his All-Decade teammates, Stewart saw success right off the bat. 

Stewart quickly took over the free safety position in his first season, ending the year with 10 consecutive starts and leading all freshmen nationally with 126 total tackles.

The next year he led the nation in turnovers (10) and fumble recoveries (6), earning him a spot on the All-AAC Second Team.

The Patterson, Louisiana, native ended his collegiate career with the Houston record in fumble recoveries (10), No. 7 in interceptions (12) and ninth in tackles (367).

He also earned All-AAC First Team honors his senior year. – J.R.

CB: D.J. Hayden, 2011-12

In 2013, Hayden ended a 16-year drought of the Cougars going in the first-round of the NFL Draft. The Oakland Raiders selected him with the No. 12 pick for a season. Hayden needed just two seasons to prove his worth after his transfer as a JUCO standout. In 22 games, he recorded 25 pass deflections and six interceptions, with three of them being pick-sixes. – A.D.

CB: William Jackson III, 2013-15

Jackson, also a JUCO product, followed Hayden’s footsteps to the NFL Draft; in 2016, the Cincinnati Bengals made him a first-round pick. Like Hayden, WJIII’s resumé looks the part. The Cougars’ lockdown cornerback of the “H-Town Takeover” era, his senior year does all the talking. In 2015, he was the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl’s Defensive MVP while recording five interceptions and 23 pass deflections in 12 games. – A.D.

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